Somebody helpfully pointed out to me that there’s no way a lot of the films on this list could be the year’s “worst.” Fair enough: I’m sure there were plenty of awful teen comedies, horror film remakes, and Michael Bay/Stephen Sommers/Wolverine movies released in 2009. Only I didn’t see them. So what you have in this list are some of the worst movies I did see in ’09–or perhaps the most frustrating (a movie like I Love You, Beth Cooper, which I thought was terrible, is too innocuous really to frustrate me–hence, not on the list). And to reiterate something I said in Part 1, the underlying motive behind this list is to take aim at certain films critically and popularly celebrated last year that I felt were undeserving of such positive notice. Tell me I’m wrong.
FIVE MORE OF THE WORST MOVIES OF 2009:
Directors: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Screenplay: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
A “philosophical comedy,” containing neither any worthwhile philosophy nor any comedy to speak of—just high-concept doltishness. The idea here seems to be that only once Ricky Gervais’s character learns to lie can he really begin to tell the truth. Except this movie’s versions of “truth” all belong to the Big Book of Hollywood Crocks: that love between a pudgy idiot (Gervais) and Jennifer Garner (playing a repulsively superficial character) is possible; that marriage and childbearing are the true goals of any human life; that an actor’s (Gervais) crying real tears on camera necessarily denotes honest, earned emotion. As a diehard atheist, even I thought Gervais’ desecration of Judeo-Christianity—a condescending, wiseass sermon featuring the Ten Commandments scrawled on Pizza Hut boxes—was among the most willfully insulting, moronic acts perpetrated on audiences this year (outside of Antichrist). All this and the movie looks amateurish, directed without grace, style, or wit.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
A yucky apartheid video game. Unspeakably ugly, from its camera-splattering violence, to its racist undertones (you see, these hideous prawn creatures are just like the black South Africans, scrounging about for cat food in landfills; but at least they’re not so despicably gross as those cannibalistic Nigerians!), to its haphazardly-used, pretend-vérité aesthetic (wait, wasn’t this a documentary a minute ago?), on loan from a million mediocre television commercials and sitcoms.
Director: Mark Waters
Screenplay: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Not really worth wasting a lot of words on why the latest Matthew McConaughey stoner-stud rom-com dud belongs on this list. Everything here has the ring of plastic, right down to the facelifts of Anne Archer and Michael Douglas as a prowling cougar and a whoring Robert Evans type, respectively.
Director: Lars von Trier
Screenplay: Lars von Trier
To borrow a friend’s term, this is puckish misogyny masquerading as art. Yet even the façade of Lars von Trier’s “gorgeously lensed” exploitation of toddler-death, mother-guilt, genital violence, and the director’s own “despair” is utterly artless; in truth, it’s mostly designer-disgusting and/or boring. If not for Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s commendable efforts (she especially summons a stunning volatility), this is likely the year’s least defensible film. Hands down, most risible movie line of 2009: “Chaos reigns.” Oh, give it a rest.
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Screenplay: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Pixar’s latest, and possibly worst, audience-manipulator. Emotionally reductive in that uniquely Pixarian way, where an “awwww” and a “sniffle” sum up the range of one’s entire affective experience. I can’t see how this is any step up from the sentiment found on the average Hallmark card–it’s cute and trite in equal measure. I find it hard not to gag on this brand of baby formula. And if we’re talking visual dazzle and outstanding use of 3-D, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs had Up beat last year.
There you have it. Thank you for reading.